Neutral Milk Hotel could quite possibly be the best band of all time, especially if you have severe emotional disorders and an odd, border-line disturbing obsession with Anne Frank.
Jeff Mangum was a crazy man. No, fucking seriously, he was batshit. So when he went around his Louisiana high school talking about making a band, people probably just patted him on back and said, "Whatever, Jeff, I'll be in your 'band'". Little did they know, that man would one day go on to make Indie kids moisten their undies for decades to come. He started out playing all his own instruments and writing a bunch of songs about nonsense and heroin. He called this endeavor Synthetic Flying Machine. After hearing this, other weird kids went "Holy fucking shit, the toaster winks at him too!"
Did you just see that?.... DID YOU JUST FUCKING SEE THAT!?
That is when Neutral Milk Hotel was born. Jeff Mangum then released an EP under that name called Everything Is. If you have a copy of it, you should hold it over your hipster friend's head and use it to make them do horrible, horrible things on video tape. Then, make them watch it with their family on Christmas.
"I wonder what the donkey is for!"
On Avery Island was released in March of 1996. It was named after a salt dome island in Louisiana where Jeff Mangum grew up. Jeff Mangum wrote all the songs and was assisted by Robert Schneider on horns.
To further prove Jeff Mangum's batshittery, here is the track listing for On Avery Island. The first 11 seem like your run of the mill, normal, artistic-eccentric indie album. Then, on track 12, shit gets terrifying.
So, that's what the donkey was for!
As great as On Avery Island was, it is nothing compared to what came next.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is quite possibly the best thing that ever happened.
See that? That is better than anything you could ever masturbate to.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea came out in February 1998. It didn't sell hardly any copies at first, possibly because normal people wouldn't follow some crazy man into a telephone booth where they were forced to fish it from a bucket, but, because of word of mouth and hipster blogs, it has gone on to sell over 100,000 copies, making it nearly as big of a scene status symbol as 3-D glasses with the lenses punched out of them. The album itself is about Jeff Mangum's childhood, view of the world, and insatiable desire for Anne Frank. It also includes songs about a two-headed boy and various references to semen.
After the limited fame and publicity this album brought Jeff Mangum, he broke up the band and had a nervous breakdown. Since then, he is rarely seen and occasionally plays Neutral Milk Hotel songs at obscure concerts. He also married a documentary filmmaker who specializes in Slovenian philosophers, earning him more Indie cred than a guy who sells bootlegs from experimental local bands from his ironically outdated Pacer named Elliott. Jeff Mangum is living the good life and treading the line between fame and absolute obscurity knowing full well that the last album he put out is better than anything anyone else could ever do.
So you brought world peace, and a cure for cancer? Psht, I made In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, and I'm wearing this sweater.